Streetery to me and my food buddies is what Central Perk was to the cast of Friends, what the Bull and Finch Pub was to the cast of Cheers – a laid-back, chill hangout; somewhere familiar, somewhere everybody knows your name (pun intended). I’m still trying to figure out who Nicky, the founder and MD of Streetery, is closer in character to – Gunther or Sam.
Streetery Foodhall By Zen, to call it by its official name, is Dubai’s first (and I think still only) Asian food hall. Located at lake level in Cluster D, JLT (the Asian cluster), it is a little piece of South-East Asia carved out, transported and embedded in Dubai. Complete with buzzing, often flickering (red-light district) red neon signs, old school Terrazzo tiles on the unfinished floor and handwritten menus on the walls, this humble eatery looks, feels, smells and sometimes even sounds like one of those urban street corner joints (the late, great) Anthony Bourdain would visit in many of his SE Asian episodes…Bangkok, Jakarta, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur – it could be any, it could be all. The Chinese symbols carved into the tiles at the entrance sum up the mood of the place perfectly – “Gai Fong Gai Lei” – We are all neighbours.
The décor and ambiance set the tone for what, I assure you, will be a meal as authentic as it is delicious. One of the advantages of Streetery is that you can simultaneously order from all three of its resident restaurants, Zen, Hing Kee and Fat Aunt’s. Among my all-time favourites (and good grief there are many) are the Char Kway Teow (stir fried flat rice noodles), Thai BBQ Chicken, Turnip Cake, Green Chili Stir Fry Beef and one of the best Thai Green Curries in the business. My daughter will be disappointed if I don’t include their insanely delicious Mango Sticky Rice with Ice Cream. Streetery is all about shared plates – order as many as your budget allows, roll up your sleeves and go to town.
Service at Streetery is friendly, fast and hugely accommodating. You are treated like a returning regular (whether you are or not) by the staff and most likely also by Gunther – sorry, I mean Nicky…who is usually skulking about somewhere…from the minute you walk in. You will by now have guessed that Nicky and I are friends and as a result, that this review may be a little biased. I make no secret of the fact that I promised to leave out the stuff I didn’t like, especially the sambal prawns and some of the weird desserts I have been forced to smile and nod my head in approval through – no, no – I won’t write about those. That said, it is those very imperfections which make Streetery so believable, so honest, so amazing – so very worth a detour.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.